Australia shares recover; Wesfarmers gains, ANZ down

Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:40pm EDT

MELBOURNE, Oct 25 - Australian shares rose 0.3 percent on Thursday, reversing early losses as top miners were bolstered by gains in the price of iron ore and the broader market attracted light demand.

Copper prices rose during the session, snapping four sessions of losses. BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto both added 0.3 percent.

"It did start off in the red but it's fought its way back," said Lonsec senior client adviser Michael Heffernan.

"While it's not shooting the lights out, its slow, its steady, it's good. Our market since June is up very solidly," he said.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was up 12 points at 4,517.9 by 0228 GMT. It fell 37.3 points to 4,505.8 on Wednesday, its lowest close in a week.

Heffernan said investors were cautiously embracing higher-yielding stocks such as Telstra Corp, which rose 0.9 percent to A$4.065.

"They're wiping their brow at the moment and just relieved we're not repeating the pretty shocking time we had last year and over the previous few years," Heffernan said.

He noted October is renowned for weakness in share markets but so far, that had not eventuated this year.

"They're relieved but they're not ready to splurge all their cash on the market at the moment, even though I think it's still good value," Heffernan said.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index fell 0.3 percent to 3,988.5.

The market set 4 1/2 year highs this week and may climb higher as funds from a stream of maturing bonds are likely to be switched to shares by domestic investors seeking higher returns. .

"There's a wave of money being poured into the market from fixed income and cash," said James Lindsay, domestic equities manager at Tyndall Investments.

Market participants say domestic investor demand has been the main driver of the New Zealand stock market's 13 percent rally in the July-September quarter.

STOCKS ON THE MOVE:

* Australia and New Zealand Banking Corp fell 0.6 percent to A$25.455 after posted a third straight year of record profits but a rise in bad debt charges underlined the challenge facing Australia's banks.

0217 GMT

* Wesfarmers Ltd rose 0.5 percent to A$34.78 after sales at its Coles supermarkets beat expectations in the fiscal first quarter..

0217 GMT

* Westfield Retail Trust rose 3 percent after it announced an on-market securities buy-back of up to A$200 million.

0218 GMT

* Echo Entertainment fell 2.6 percent to A$3.69. The casino owner said total gross sales rose 12.9 percent in the 16 weeks to Oct 21, from a year earlier, but said Queensland operations continued to be difficult, with sales down a last year.

Separately, a proposal by Crown for a second casino in Sydney, to compete with Echo's The Star, passed a first stage of government approval and will now be subject to a rigorous financial appraisal. Any new casino would not be operational before 14 November, 2019, when Echo's exclusive licence expires.

Shares in Crown slipped 0.2 percent.

0225 GMT

* Amcor Ltd rose 0.9 percent to A$7.83 after it told shareholders it was tracking in line with expectations outlined in August, and affirmed its outlook.

0225 GMT

(Reporting by Miranda Maxwell and Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Michael Perry)

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